Life Expectancy Soars, But Not in U.S.


By 2030 South Korea is expected to lead the world in life expectancy rates, according to the World Health Organization, with other industrialized countries lining up behind them.  “Japan, Sweden, Switzerland, those countries tend to be toward the top of life expectance,” says Rice University sociologist Dr. Justin Denney.

The U.S. is expected to lag far behind, and he says that’s because of inequalities inherent in the American model, primarily in our health care system.  “In a lot of way our health care policy in the United States is based on a ‘pull yourselves up by the bootstraps’ policy, and that’s just not a very good policy,” he says.  He says there are several factors driving longevity. “One of them is socioeconomic standing, or how much wealth you have.  The wealthier live longer in general and sometimes quite a bit longer in the places like the United States,” Denney tells KTRH News.

Our current average life expectancy in the United States is 78 years, with women generally outliving most men.  “Texas is right about the middle” Dr. Denney says, “So the life expectancy in Texas is about 78 years.”  A good 12 years less than other top earning nations, and putting us on par with Mexico and Croatia. 


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